New Age Islam
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Debating Islam ( 13 Jul 2009, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Asad Farooqui responds to Maulana Nadeemul Wajidi’s view of Hijab

A Rejoinder to the most ungracious Maulvi with the most negative traits for the success of Islam in the World


By Asad Farooqui for New Age Islam


          Whenever I study the Holy Quran, I am deeply convinced of its wisdom in giving the right message to the Mankind for the establishment of peace in the world through a certain disciplined society.

          The provision of Hejab in the entire Quran has been explained again and again. Keeping one’s gaze below is very clear; drawing of a cover over the bosom has also been recommended. These things should be followed by the entire society in the whole world. But the present shape of ‘Burqua’ in which the poor women can be allowed to see the world only with one eye and that too behind a netted hole. The Maulana knows that Allah again and again says that He knows everything, that if He had desired the entire world would have consisted of Believers and Believers alone. He confirms that He is the Most Merciful and Forgiving. But it is a shame that the self-absorbed Maulana apparently doesn’t believe in any of this.

The one defence of this inhuman practice of the Burqa, making Muslim women one-eyed creatures, is the Aya 53 of Surah Al-Ahzab.

As for the frequently quoting Ayah by the Maulana, it must be understood that it was necessary to teach good, civilised manners to the rude Arabs of those days.

Abdullah Yusuf Ali has very aptly explained the meaning of this Ayah in the following manner:

The rules of refined social ethics is as necessary to teach to-day as it was with the rude Arabs whom the holy Prophet had to teach in his day. Those mentioned in this verse may be briefly recapitulated thus: (1) Enter not a friend's house without permission; (2) if invited to dine, don't go too early; you are asked to dine, not to wait for the preparation of the food; (3) be there at the time appointed, so that you enter when you are expected and invited; (4) after the meal, don't get familiar with your host, especially if there is a great distance between him and you; (5) don't waste time in tittle-tattle, causing inconvenience and perhaps annoyance to your host; (6) understand what is proper behaviour for you: he may be too polite to ask to depart. All this has a social bearing: respect and delicate consideration for others are among the highest virtues.  

Obviously, the Maulana doesn’t seem to understand or is probably being mischievous when he ignores the fact that this Aya only came to teach good manners to the uncouth and illiterate Bedouins among whom Islam came to begin with and addressed them directly in the first instance. These people needed to be taught god manners and perhaps some Muslims around the world still need to be taught these good manners. Hence the relevance of this Aya even today, but to stretch it to justify the inhuman practice of putting women under the leash of the burqa is truly a travesty of Islam. It amounts to demeaning and belittling the great religion of Islam which came in the world to liberate and not to enslave humanity.

 Indeed, perhaps the single most important contribution of Islam, among many such could be the emancipation of women from the clutches of male chauvinists like these Maulanas. Of course, we should have built on Islamic teachings through the practice of Ijtihad and gone forward in the process initiated by Islam. We haven’t, and so Islam appears to be a backward religion today in comparison with some other systems that have moved ahead. But preaching that Islam taught us to keep women inside their homes is truly a mischief when we had a prophet who actually was an employee of the business lady who later became his wife and remained his only wife till her death.

          This obnoxious Maulana appears to go against everything God tells him. He is showcasing Muslims not as a community that will make every effort for the unity of Mankind; it is being most insensitive that he forgets that the message of Islam is ‘Peace’. He wants ‘Muslims’ to be portrayed as a ‘chosen race’, the idea most abhorrent to by God.

          He forgets the meaning of ‘righteousness’ as given in surah Baqarah, but makes his own definition by adopting an unreasonable attitude. On the other hand Allah, in the most Graceful manner wants to teach him a flexible approach when He says “It is not righteousness that ye turn your faces toward East or West…….” Surah Baqarah: 177. The Maulana doesn’t bother about priorities; he is not bothered about orphans, practicing regular charity and to be patient in pain. He is most bothered about his wives’  ‘Burquas’ and his ‘beard’. And how come the subject of ‘beard’ has crept onto the discussion about the hapless woman, I wonder!

          Another complaint with the Maulanas is that they completely ignore the fact that Islam presents a most secular image. Tthe Maulana only narrowly thinks that the Hell is made for all the non-Muslims, for all times, and for all the Muslims, if they follow “the unanimous opinion of all Islamic scholars (read ‘Maulanas’). Allah has already made the provision of ‘paradise’ for them only. And for the Hoors-in-Waiting for the Maulana, the ‘Islamic scholars’ are yet to devise a sort of ‘Burqua’.

          He forgets all the provisions of the Holy Quran, particularly the forceful plea of Allah in Surah 109: Al-Kafirun. He helps only those who are believers ‘according to the unanimous opinion of the Maulanas’. And he picks up fight with those who differ with the Maulanas. The most pitiable state is that of such Maulanas who forget that God is the only one and ever since the creation, ALL human beings have been made by Him, and that on the Day of Judgment, each and every body (the French President and the Maulana included) would be resurrected and would be accountable before God for their ‘good’ and ‘bad’ deeds.  But the Maulana is so grateful to Allah for making him an ‘Islamic scholar’ that he doesn’t want to leave anything to God. He makes his own lexicon of what is good and what is bad and in his own imaginary world keeps managing a ‘unanimous’ opinion of ‘Islamic scholars’.

  Our maulvies have spread so much darkness, I apprehend in some of my cheeky moments,  that one day they might reverse the role and laud the beard on a woman’s face and wear ‘Burqua’ themselves! That would be the real piece of entertainment, much better than the amusement they constantly provide through their fatwas and other pronouncements. If they were not so tragic, in their implications, the pronouncements of Maulanas and Maulvis could just be treated as a perennial source of amusement.

Note: This article is in response to   The Practice of Veil in Islam – Its Obligation and Utility by Maulana Nadeemul Wajidi available at:

New Delhi-based writer Asad Farooqui is a retired civil servant and an occasional columnist for New Age Islam.